Every day good fathers and mothers quietly go about their lives loving their children and raising them to be happy, productive people. Being a good parent doesn’t earn people accolades or give them fame because it is to be expected. It’s not extraordinary for parents to love their children. For this reason, it’s easy to forget what an important part fathers and mothers play in the success of their families, communities, and societies.
A Quiet Place took me by surprise by shining a light on this seemingly forgotten and unnoticed aspect of everyday life. It portrays a strong father and a loving mother who are willing to do anything for each other and their children and to even sacrifice their lives, if necessary. Let’s talk about the many ways that A Quiet Place manages to show how seemingly mundane moments are actually quite meaningful.
I went into A Quiet Place not knowing anything about it. I had never seen a trailer or read any review about it. I’m glad that ended up being the case because it made it that much more surprising and heart-wrenching. The moment that I saw the mother’s swollen belly I nearly gasped in horror. I thought that she was marked for death. Even if she somehow survived giving birth, her newborn baby would not live long. Babies cry. There is no way to stop that. I thought that she and her husband were insane for wanting to bring a child into the world under such dire circumstances.
And then I remembered that I had heard almost that exact statement before. I’ve heard it used as a justification for not wanting to have children. This world is so messed up, why bother bringing more people into it? Here is a movie that offers an eloquent rebuttal to that mentality without saying a word about it. The father and mother never discuss their decision to have a child. They never argue about it or show any kind of regret about their decision. They just love each other. Even in the worst circumstances imaginable, they chose to have a baby. Children are the mark of hope for the future. It says so much about the character of these parents that they are willing to risk death at any moment for the sake of their unborn child.
Saving and Enriching Their Lives
Fathers and mothers have different strengths that they bring to the table. Fathers need to be strong for their families. It’s not easy to stand between your family and the world and to carve out a healthy existence for the people who depend on you. It’s also equally challenging for mothers to raise young minds to grow into wise producers who will become independent of their parents. We see these parenting methods play out in A Quiet Place. The father trains his son to obtain food for the family and outwit the creatures. He provides his daughter with the tool she needs to survive any encounter with the creatures. And he comes up with a clever plan to save his wife’s life. He gives everyone he loves the things they need to carry on and rely on themselves if anything were to happen to him.
We see the mother teaching her children out of books. She isn’t able to be as hands-on as her husband, but she contributes valuable information to her children that will benefit them if they are able to survive this ordeal. The father is looking at the short term while the mother is looking at the long term. Both are necessary to first preserve their lives and then make their lives worth living.
Suffering in Silence
We get to see a beautiful display of maternal strength when the mother suffers in silence as her water breaks and she goes into labor. She climbs into a bathtub to hide from the creatures and does her best to breathe as quietly as possible while she bites back screams of agony. It is through sheer force of will that she manages to hold out in silence just long enough for her husband and son to shoot off fireworks to lure the creatures away from her.
She is just as strong and resourceful as her husband. Only the purest love can motivate someone to endure unbearable pain for the sake of another without a single word of complaint. I’ve seen my wife give birth four times, and I can tell you there are few forces in the world that can match the power of maternal love.
No Anger, Just Love
Much of the film is spent in the shadow of the opening scene. The deaf daughter accidentally causes the death of her little brother when she gives him a noisy toy that she thinks is harmless because its batteries have been removed. She doesn’t realize that he has pocketed those batteries with the intention of putting them back in. He does so, and the rest of the family watches in helpless horror as the boy is snatched up and murdered by a creature who was attracted to the toy’s sound.
The daughter thinks that her father will never forgive her for that grave mistake. But she’s wrong. He has to be strong for her, and he thinks that the best way to show his love for her is to keep trying to give her a hearing aid that will allow her to hear. Each attempt fails until the last one, which proves to be the creatures’ downfall because it causes terrible pain to them whenever they get close to her. She doesn’t realize until the end that these many hearing aids her father worked on for her were his way of saying he loves her. It was through his actions, not his words, that he hoped to convey that. But in the end he learned that sometimes words are important. Children need to hear their parents say that they love them. Feelings are not always clear until they are put into words.
As long as my 5-year-old son has been able to talk, he only ever said he liked me. He said that he loved my wife and his baby brother, but he didn’t love anyone else. I would tell him that I love him, and he would always respond, “I like you, too.” He said it was because I was mean to him. I suppose I was blunt with him, expecting too much of him compared to his slightly older brother and sister. The older two kids were born at moments in my life when I was under a lot of stress and times were tough, so I felt a real kinship with them because it felt like we had come through the fiery furnace together. By the time my third child was born five years ago, everything was going much better. So I didn’t connect with him as intimately as I had with the first two. But over the past year I worked at it every day, looking for good qualities in him, playing with him, singing to him, and praising his efforts at writing and drawing. A few weeks ago, as I was tucking him into bed, I told him I loved him as usual and this time he responded, “I love you, too.” It sent a jolt through me. I asked him to repeat it just to make sure I had heard him correctly. He smiled and said it again, and I gave him the biggest hug of his life.
I can’t describe the feelings that come from fatherhood. It is the sweetest joy I have ever experienced to have good children who look up to me and tell me that they admire and love me. Those are moments that would never warrant any notice in the news. But they are forever etched in this father’s heart. And I trust that as my kids grow up, they will always have a foundation of love that they will carry with them into their own families.
Those are the kinds of feelings that A Quiet Place managed to convey with almost no words. It’s a wonder to behold such small moments of love and sacrifice portrayed on the big screen. Maybe those quiet examples of fatherhood and motherhood do deserve to be shouted from the rooftops.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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